February 4th is World Cancer Day, a day marked to enable all individuals, families, communities, groups and organizations to raise awareness about cancer risk factors, preventive measures that one can take, and the need to get screened for early detection, in order to avert the adverse effects of this deadly disease.
It is worth noting that most cancer deaths can be prevented when detected early and/or the relevant vaccines are given at the appropriate time. Cervical cancer is among the avoidable cancer-related deaths, especially when the needed actions, including screening, are taken early. IPPF Africa Region has been positively contributing to the cancer response in Africa, through the Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventive Therapy (CCSPT) project, implemented in four countries; Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
From the inception of the project in 2012, a total of 498,330 individuals have benefited from screening and out of these, 10,362 have been treated with cryotherapy. It is worth noting that the potential death of over 10,000 women who may have progressed to the cancer stage, have been averted and their lives saved. Indeed, the project has made significant contribution towards reducing the cancer disease burden in the focus countries.
In addition, IPPFARO in 2016 secured new funding for three Member Associations; Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Uganda to strengthen their work in the area of cervical cancer prevention. Through this funding support, and the hard work of volunteers and staff of the Member Associations, 32,132 women were screened, with 1,382 receiving cryotherapy treatment to arrest the pre-cancer cells.
This year’s theme for the World Cancer Day remains “We can. I can.” I take this opportunity to encourage all; individuals, groups and organizations to contribute towards saving the lives of our African women from cancer deaths. This we can achieve by creating awareness on cancer prevention- education, coaching, motivating and encouraging people to check for and report signs and symptoms as early as possible. Emphasis should also be placed on preventive measures and reduction or avoidance of associated risk factors.
“Encourage a woman you care about to get screened for cervical cancer today”.
Mr. Lucien Kouakou is the IPPF Africa Region Director.